Tomorrow (Saturday, May 5) our town will participate in Town Meeting, this is the legislative body of our town and this is the place that residents can affect the most change. The most important thing to remember is to get out to the High School and be there to make the vote!
At this town meeting, we have a very hot button issue that will be decided on. There are 150 families in the area of 333 Andover Street, all of which will be effected that need your help. Currently, this land is zoned R60, meaning if developed it would look similar to the homes already in the area. There would be somewhere in the area of 40 to 50 homes under this designation.
Earlier this year, a builder widely known for remodeling kitchens and bathrooms somehow got his daughter involved in a rezoning of this 62.5 acre parcel. For the past couple months we have heard many promises made by both of them, such as elderly housing would be contained in this development and, it was reported to me by a resident on Ashwood that they had made the claim our vets would be taken care of as well.
Over time, I and former Selectwoman Suzanne Sullivan began debunking the claims being made on the project. The facts being presented just don’t add up and I truly believe there is far more to this development than we are being told.
In short, here are the facts as I see them. Mixed Use Zoning was never meant to be used outside of the central business district let alone using it on the most remote piece of property we have. Next, according to the zoning table, over 55 housing is not allowed within the mixed use zoning, and there is no language in our bylaws that allows for veteran housing. When I brought this to light, the petitioner responded that they were going to utilize the Community Housing Facility section. Since our bylaws do not directly define “community housing,” we can look at 44B of MGL which defines it as low income individuals and families. This does include seniors, however. If you’re a senior looking forward to moving into this development keep in mind you will be equal to everyone else trying to grab one of these units.
Next, the most important descriptor I have seen was Mr. Welch’s interview on WCTV. In the interview, he makes reference to “the housing department” and a 250-unit limit. He is directly referencing the 40B law that limits the SIZE of a project that can be dropped on a community. So, it’s a 40B… A friendly 40B.
Here are some things you should consider: There is a lot of property out there, once this phase is done there will still be a lot left. Rezoning to Mixed Use will lock in the developers ability to come in with a phase two down the road and add to the numbers.
There is still another possibility: That the property is never touched by anyone in the Welch family or the folks backing him, and it gets flipped to a larger developer like Avalon Properties.
I argue that the town should purchase this land and I have been clear that we should utilize this space as a community farm modeled after Brooksby Farm in Peabody with revenue going into our towns general fund. We would also have space left over for any other uses the town may need including as some have stated several times an ice rink. The sky is the limit on the remaining land however the ONLY way we have a choice is to purchase the land.
Please don’t allow the fear mongering to sway your opinion on purchasing the farm. Over the past 7 years, language allowing for eminent domain has been used in 7 different articles. As long as the folks on the negotiations committee come to the table in good faith, eminent domain is a non-issue.
Finally, I do think Mr. McCoy did make a mistake and I would like to state my (and others) observation. Mr. McCoy came up with 8 million plus number at last week’s Planning Board/Finance Committee Meeting. I believe this number is very wrong and here’s why.
If 8 million was a number leaked, that was the number that would be agreed to purchase AFTER the rezone took place. There is no speculation, that land increases significantly in value under Mixed Use over R60. My contention is, the 8 million is way over what the real price of this property is at R60. Finally, in 2013, the town purchased the St. Dorothy’s property and paid about $219,465.00 per acre. If we spent the full $8 million on 333 Andover Street, we would be paying $128,000.00 per acre.
We NEED you to vote YES on Article 2 (Special Town Meeting) and vote NO on Article 53. Lets slow down the transformation of Wilmington into a city.